Exploring the connection between impostor phenomenon and postgraduate students feeling academically-unprepared

Jonathan Cisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Impostor phenomenon refers to an overwhelming feeling of being an intellectual fraud despite evidence to the contrary, and it affects highly capable individuals in many fields, including those in postgraduate education. This project sought to answer the following question: in what ways do postgraduate students enrolled in a large, American institution experience impostor phenomenon during their postgraduate education? Interviews and a survey showed that the majority of the participants experienced impostor phenomenon, and that many of those feelings related to the participants feeling academically-unprepared, including concerns related to reading, writing, and discussing academic work. This article explores this connection between impostor phenomenon and participants feeling like they lacked sufficient academic skill sets to succeed in their programmes. The results build a case for doing literacy work as a way to address impostor phenomenon among postgraduate students.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Early online date23 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Oct 2019


  • Academic development
  • Impostor phenomenon
  • Impostor syndrome
  • Postgraduate education
  • Supervision


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